Sunday, July 27, 2008

The EYES Have It!

We have a busy week ahead of us. L goes in for his first cataract surgery on Tuesday morning. Tuesday is also Z's 16th birthday, so this will be a FULL day for us!

My Dad will be driving L to and from his surgery and his follow-up appointment Wednesday morning. We can't afford for me to take any more time off right now. I had to take Thursday off to drive L the 100 miles to his surgeon's office to get his eyes measured for the new lenses that will be inserted into his eyes. Thursday's jaunt cost me a day's wages, plus about $100 in tips, and $45 for gas. Fortunately, we were able to get L home in time for him to go to work.

Now, we're worrying about L's ability to work over the next month. L has strange vision problems and the surgeon doesn't think that his eyes will balance until he gets the cataracts removed from his 2nd eye. The surgeon only comes up here every 4 weeks, but she said she can do the 2nd surgery sooner if we drive the 100 miles to her location. This would involve me taking 2 more days off work plus gas, motel, and meals. However, this would mean that L would only be off work for the 1-2 weeks between surgeries, instead of waiting 4 weeks for the surgeon to come up here. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when L has his follow-up appointment on Wednesday.

Then we have the problem of not being able to get a new prescription for glasses until, at least, 4 weeks after the 2nd surgery. Now add in another 1-2 weeks for the new glasses to arrive, plus the 2-4 weeks between surgeries, and we have a grand total of, at least, 8 weeks that L won't be able to drive. L runs a lot of our errands in the mornings while I'm at work, so those chores will now fall to me. We're hoping that after the 2nd surgery we'll be able to get L a pair of reading glasses from K-Mart that will enable him to read and cook at work until his new glasses arrive.

On Friday we had another monetary low blow. The surgeon gave L a prescription for antibiotic eye drops that he needs to start taking on Monday. When we took the prescription to our pharmacy, the pharmacist told us that it wasn't covered by our insurance, AND the drops are $76.50. HUH? The pharmacist said that very few insurance plans cover the cost of the eye drops. OK...a necessary, sight restoring surgery is covered, BUT a mandatory part of the surgery, the eye drops, AREN'T COVERED?! And WHY does 5ml of eye drops cost almost $80?! Just another fine example of our screwed up health system! Now we can't wait to see what our co-pay will be on the surgery. Plus, if L's total medical bills go over $10,000 for the year, we have to pay the difference. He already has $2,500 on his account for new hearing aids, so things don't look too good in this department. Seeing and hearing are mandatory for L's employment, so I guess we don't have a choice. He has to keep working, so we can keep paying our health insurance premiums. Kind of a vicious cycle, isn't it?

The other bad news is they discovered that L has macular degeneration. 40 years ago, L developed a blind spot dead center in his field of vision in both eyes. At the time they didn't know what to call his condition, so they labeled it "macleopia". L was legally blind until he took classes at the Mpls. School For The Blind, which taught him to use his peripheral vision to see around the blind spots. This therapy enabled L to live a normal life, including reading and driving. The good news is that L's eyes haven't deteriorated any further since his first bout with macular degeneration 40 years ago. We pray that this trend continues!

The next 8 weeks will be trying ones for us. We just pray that the cataract surgery will correct the double vision and zero night vision that L has been experiencing. Time will tell...

24 Comments:

At 7/27/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Holy crap - big stuff happening over your way...

I get so disheartened and sad when I hear about my US friends dealing with the US health system. There is just no excuse for a country as wealthy as yours is to have such a shitty system.

I wish you guys all the best, and I know you'll come through it with flying colours. I know it won't be easy at all, but you are SURVIVORS. In that, I have complete faith.

 
At 7/27/2008 11:50 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks WC! It will all be worth it if L's vision improves!

Life has always been a struggle for us, so why should we expect things to change now? ;)

They say we can't have gov't health care because it would be socialism. Yet our gov't constantly bails out airlines, insurance companies, banks, etc. WTF kind of double talk is that?
You'd think our gov't would want to keep its slaves healthy!

 
At 7/27/2008 1:15 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

I"m so sorry, Tshsmom for both of you. Agree with WC about the health system and the outrageous prices down there. No one should have to choose between health and cost. WC's also right about you two being strong survivors, but sheesh a little let-up in the black clouds would help. You're both in my prayers.

My little bro was diagnosed with MD as well. It hasn't affected him yet.

Hoping to high heavens that all goes well with L's and your health.

 
At 7/27/2008 1:54 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Bridg! Prayers are appreciated!

So many people, including my parents, have been brainwashed into the idea that health care isn't a right, it's a privilege. If you can't afford it, too bad. With that kind of attitude, I don't think we'll EVER see a change in our system! :(
On the other hand, our gov't has no problem letting illegal aliens have free health care, using MY tax dollars!

 
At 7/27/2008 6:31 PM, Blogger Mnmom said...

Sending my strongest vibes that everything goes OK.
Our healthcare system stinks, doesn't it?? The average family working two jobs cannot survive a medical crisis. I know, we've been there and we're STILL paying.
But our govt can sure cough up the bucks if rich CEOs and sports teams need some help, can't they?

I have small tears on my retinas and my Doc told me to start taking Lutein right now to stave off MD in my later years. I have extremely nasty vision, and I'm having "old people" eye problems in my 40's. L has all my sympathy.

 
At 7/27/2008 7:59 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger but sometimes enough is enough. Hope all goes as well as it can - sounds like going to the surgeon might be your best bet to get L back to normal ASAP but it's not going to be easy in any event. I take it that your health coverage doesn't cover temporary disability either. Sucks big time. I'm not thrilled with our healthcare here and we don't have extended coverage but I know in a case like this we'd still be in a better position. Gary's care over the years for his heart alone make me grateful for being here rather than there. I remember his first procedure way back cost $25000 just for the hospital stay and didn't include the doctor they brought up from Chicago to perform it. That was before we had universal health care and were responsible for our own premiums. Because of his heart, we'd had to go on welfare and were entitled to premium waiver but it hadn't gone through the system yet so accounting called me down to square up. YIKES! He's had numerous tests and checkups since and the big quad bypass. Can't imagine how we'd have managed.

You're in my prayers babe.

 
At 7/28/2008 2:52 AM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

Hey MOM and DAD from your adopted children..... LOL... Hope things go well for him and you of course. That is alot on your plate right now. Hope the surgery goes smooth. I remember when my mom had it done. It was awful but again she wasnt working like you two have to and Happy B-day Z... Where has time went???

 
At 7/28/2008 10:52 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Wow... Sorry you're dealing with this. Insurance companies are really screwing people and it sucks. I just don't understand why Americans complain about socialized health care and find all the problems with it instead of taking the best of the programs offered elsewhere and improving on them.

I'll bet that if you asked in a survey, how many people think the government should do more to help people with various things (health care, child care, etc) people would be all in agreement, and then ask their opinion about socialism and they'd all have negative opinions. I think the problem is most people don't understand what socialism is and don't understand that socialism can be combined with a capitalist market successfully as they do in EU.

My eye doctor has told me I'm at risk for retinal tearing because of my severe nearsightedness, so every other year I have to get dialated and they look at my retinas. Scary shit when things go wrong with your eyes.

 
At 7/28/2008 11:53 AM, Blogger Cherie said...

Happy Birthday to Z!! Sixteen is a good year. Has he got his driver's license? Big stuff for a young man...

This must be THE YEAR for cataract surgery. Tom's mom has had both eyes done this summer and is so happy with the results. She's got 20/20 vision and can see better than she has for years. My aunt and uncle have had their eyes done this summer as well and also are loving the results. No complications for any of them. So I'm hopeful that L will be happy with the results however tedious the process. Good luck! I'll add prayers for you all.

Yes, the insurance/medical system in this country needs a thorough revamping for sure. I know, though, that my mom has incurred tens of thousands of dollars (probably pushing six figures by now) in health related costs due to her illness and rehab, yet because of Medicare she and Dad have paid less than $5000 out of pocket. Even her new wheelchair is covered. So there's something good about the system, if you are older anyway.

Tom and I are some of the lucky ones who have great insurance through his job with the city. When we look at all that insurance has covered for us with four kids and all that that entails, plus three sets of braces, and a few surgeries, glasses, etc., well, we've saved a bundle through the years. I don't think even Canada or France covers as much as Tom's and my insurance does and it's provided to us as part of his salary. Everyone should be so lucky.

The downside is that if Tom ever wanted to find a different job - loves his job, not looking - he'd have to find as good an insurance package because, you guessed it, the medical costs would cripple us otherwise.

Even with good insurance, there's still the run around, the ridiculous red tape, the restrictions that we all face. Senseless and inefficient.

There has to be a better way than to be hog-tied by a greedy medical/insurance machine.

 
At 7/28/2008 3:24 PM, Blogger zydeco fish said...

That is such terrible money news, but I hope it all works out. It's hard to put a price on vision, but it sucks when health insurance is wacky. The drops are clearly part of the procedure. How bizarre.

 
At 7/28/2008 4:36 PM, Blogger VV said...

Oh man! That sucks! I hate our health care system. We've been the victims of it many times as well. Have you looked into other types of health insurance or insurance through the state that might give you a break on the co-pays? This is why I keep telling God, I need to win the lottery so I can help people, or if I can't win it, would you make the next winner generous of heart and have them help out all these folks in need? I haven't received an answer yet, but I'll let you know when I do. Oh, and tell Z Happy 16th Birthday! That's a big one!

 
At 7/28/2008 4:38 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

mnmom, don't get me started on all the public money that MN has put into pro sports! Have you met anybody who agrees with this practice? I haven't. So where do our legislators get off, appropriating OUR tax dollars to rich sports teams?! GRRR!

L's been having "old people eye problems" since he was 19. You two can definitely relate. ;)

Jeannie, I'm just thankful that we're all as healthy as we are, other than L's hearing and vision problems. Nothing life threatening, thank GOD! If one of us got so sick that we couldn't work, we'd be on welfare too. :(

Tweets, we'll let you know how it goes.

Laura, my thoughts EXACTLY!
The only plan I hear from our politicians involves working with the insurance companies. We don't need a middleman getting rich on our health dollars!

Our lovely governor's idea is to require ALL employers to carry insurance for their workers. That plan would cause thousands of small businesses to close, including where we work and 75% of the other employers in our town. Can you imagine how much a Big Mac would cost if McDonalds had to provide health coverage?

Cherie, Z has to have his learner's permit for 6 months before he can try for his license, so he can't take the driving test until the end of October.

We're hoping that L sees a big improvement in his sight after he recovers from the surgeries. The surgeon said he'll still need glasses, but they won't be "coke bottle" glasses anymore.

I can't understand why people are so happy with Medicare, but are scared to expand the coverage to everyone. Like you said:"There has to be a better way than to be hog-tied by a greedy medical/insurance machine."

ZF, yeah, it's really a heartless, screwed-up system! :(

 
At 7/28/2008 4:50 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, our health insurance IS through the state. It's the only insurance we can afford. Private health insurance would cost half of our monthly income, and then it would only be "major medical" which only covers devastating extended illnesses.

LOL, that's what I'd do if I won the lottery too.

 
At 7/28/2008 8:26 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Tshsmom, my grandfather was far from a rich person. When my dad cleaned up his affairs, we found that the hospital billed the estate for meds given to him after he died. Like hours/days after!!

Some things just should not be allowed to be about profit.

 
At 7/29/2008 3:31 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Oh gosh, so much stuff going on for you right now - I'll definitely be thinking of you all tomorrow.

 
At 7/29/2008 10:00 AM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Wow, gal, that is a bummer - I'm sorry to hear about this eye trouble that is so complicating things.

There are supplements that are really good for macular D and can reverse it - I'll try to find what they are.....

I really can't figure the insurance companies - I got into trouble with the anemia because I wasn't taking the expensive type of iron supplement that I could absorb and, instead, was taking the cheap Walmart ones which were not being absorbed. But the insurance wouldn't cover what the doctor wanted me to have because they are a "vitamin." Instead they covered thousands and thousands of dollars of hospitalization and heparin and blood tests while I recovered from a pumonary embolism caused by the transfusion for the anemia which could have been prevented in the first place by giving me the prescription for the good iron. Screwed up health system . .. you betcha.

WC is so right - there is no excuse for a country like ours to have such pitiful health care. Neither presidential candidate seems to take it too seriously either.

 
At 7/29/2008 3:57 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, that's par for the course. I think we all have dozens of horror stories just like that. My boss got double billed for a series of urine test, and she didn't even give them a urine specimen! :(

You're so right! As soon as health care turned to purely profit, the system started playing God.

Jay, thanks! The surgery went fine. Now we're just waiting for his eyes to clear.

V, thank you, but NO! We take care of our OWN; always have, always will!

Gardenia, I've already got him started on the vitamin plan. Our insurance doesn't cover vitamins either. If we take vitamins, their buddies the pharmaceutical companies don't get their cut. Rat bastards!

We don't have a health care candidate, do we? McNugget doesn't have a clue, and Obama wants to work within the insurance companies(I've already stated my opinion on that solution.)

 
At 7/29/2008 5:29 PM, Blogger karen said...

For info on macular degeneration you may want to check out http://www.seewithlasik.com/docs/laser-eye-surgery-disease.shtml.

 
At 7/29/2008 6:08 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

I'm so glad I read all the way through comments first and saw that L's surgery went well. That's wonderful. I have a friend who cataracts taken off both eyes last year. She had no troubles and loves her sight now.

It sucks that such a great nation as ours doesn't mind kicking people to the curb financially on healthcare. I'm lucky that I have a job that has decent insurance. But they still cut our coverage a bit every year as costs are getting outrageous!

Happy B'day to Z! Too bad he can't start driving today. Would certainly help with the errands.

Good luck on everything to you guys.

 
At 7/30/2008 5:02 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

Hi again! The book is quite fascinating - I was only half way through when I wrote my blurb - it dealt with how the politicians are using our Gut fears to increase power.

One of the stats he brings up is that as horrible as it would be to those involved, a 9/11 could occur every month for a year and the US would be barely affected financially, and the chances of any one person being killed would still be infitesimal.Same thing if a nuke went off - even if 100,000 people were killed the country could not possibly be ruined. Terrorists simply can not win against the wealth and populace of the US. Period. They don't have the manpower and resources and most don't even have the knowledge.
Good book. Finishes by saying we are living in the safest time ever. We are living longer and dying of fewer things (which is why cancer rates appear to be rising - it is a disease of the old - people are not dying of diptheria, tetanus, measles, small pox and infections so they have to die of something else eventually. The murder rate in the UK was 14 times higher than it is today during the middle ages. Which is 8 times higher than in the states.

 
At 8/01/2008 11:36 AM, Blogger DirtCrashr said...

Good recovery and God bless!

 
At 8/01/2008 2:49 PM, Blogger SME said...

The argument I keep hearing against socialized medicide is that it "rewards bad behaviour". In other words, if you're promiscuous and get AIDS you don't deserve free health care. So it's better to let everyone suffer and die than to let a few "undeserving" people get medical attention. Whatever.

 
At 8/01/2008 4:57 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

Hey its been a few days. I know you are buys helping L out because he cant do much with one eye but how is he doing???? Just wondering. I know its a bad surgery but he will be ok and so will you two with this going on. Just drop me a line or what ever when you have a spare few minutes.. N....

 
At 8/02/2008 8:38 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, that's another huge problem. Corporate and gov't workers are seeing big cuts in their coverage. If this trend continues, we'll ALL soon be in the same boat. It seems like the only ones with decent coverage are our politicians. Heaven forbid that they cut THEIR coverage! :(

Jeannie, I MUST check with SME, to see if she has this book! If not, maybe she'll buy it..so I can borrow it. ;)

Thanks DC!!

SME, that's the LAMEST argument I've EVER heard! If a person develops full-blown AIDS, they won't be working for long and will get on Medicaid, so we're already paying for their "mistakes".

I think universal health care should be accompanied by co-pays, based on income. This would prevent people from frivolously abusing the system.

Tweets, update coming right up! ;)

 

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